Virtual Reality is here and it's no secret! With apps porting VR capabilities to our smartphones (Visit YouTube, search "your friend's Mom does roller coaster VR," and voila! Hilarity!) and more and more not-so-novel services popping up sporting virtual reality as their main draw (we're looking at you VR fitness!) it's becoming a ubiquitous part of our lives. But beneath the flashy gimmicks and cutting edge technology lies potential for unmatched creative power. Here's why VR belongs in the classroom and how we can help make that a (no pun intended) reality.
Virtual Reality sells itself from a "usability" standpoint. It literally grants us the power to travel between worlds, sensory facsimiles unbounded by the confines of logic and science. It allows us to immerse ourselves in digital recreations without leaving our physical space. Think of the classroom applications there! To take students on trips through time, space and history for them to explore at their own space and volition. Magic Schoolbus meets the real life brick and mortar classroom!
Current Classroom Status
We're not suggesting that virtual reality isn't already being used in the classroom. Those classrooms with access to the technology have found great utility in the transportive capabilities of virtual reality. However, this process tends to be of the "passive" variety. There's nothing wrong with this, of course. Passive experiences can still be great sources of education. Watching an informative film, or playing an educational video game. However, we believe that VR technology houses far greater utility in crafting creators. In other words, we'd like to see virtual reality reach an educational sphere where users are taught how to create virtual worlds right off the bat, not just visit them!
Obstacles to VR Integration
The "big 3" in terms of VR-curriculum holdups are time, resources and knowhow. Many teachers have the interest in bringing virtual reality into the classroom as a learning supplement, but lack the technology to do so and feel they don't have time to adequately learn the ins and outs of the software and tech to properly get at it.
How can you help?
A STEAMPunks project we're running aims to make VR creation an active creation process in the classroom and we're applying for an Infy Makers grant to make that happen!
"From assembling kits of cameras and headsets, as well as our guided curriculum to follow, we’d provide educators worldwide with the necessary tools for VR creation, in exchange for student work. With each kit we ship, another virtual branch is added to our project and with each subsequent student creation, this virtual network expands and diversifies. By providing guided curriculum and equipment, as well as a global collaborative project, the potential for growth and continued use is essentially limitless, as is the potential for literally transcendent VR experiences. We hope to work with VR companies with an educational focus like Wonda Vr, MergeVR, and even Nearpod to curate student work. We could even expand in terms of professional development and allow new teachers to observe veterans all around the world, and on their time table.
This project puts students and teachers directly into the active role of VR creation, literally crafting their own virtual reality landscapes and expanding on VR education that has traditionally focused only on the passive experience of the “virtual field trip,” wherein users simply engage in pre-created VR landscapes. Beginning locally in Kentuckiana, we aim to help rural and inner-city students alike experience the boundless potential of virtual reality by creating their own digital space and corresponding narrative and sharing it with the world. To execute this, these students will use a 360-degree camera, virtual headsets, WonderVR (a virtual editing platform) and STEAMPunks-exclusive curriculum to construct a virtual recreation of their personal living environment. Within their creation they’ll embed special “trigger hotspots” that activate text, videos and images as supplementary information and storytelling. “Visitors” can then don a VR headset to experience “life” in the student’s creation, engaging a multimedia narrative of the student’s life and legacy! "
You can help us make this project a reality locally (and eventually globally) simply by voting here! You can vote once every 24 hours from now until April 24 (2017). Your vote gets us a grant which will help us purchase this technology! VR classroom implementation is more than just a cool gimmick: it can literally connect the world!